Consumer Reports, that biker-oriented magazine, recently published an article titled “Who Makes the Most Reliable Motorcycle?” Not surprisingly, Yamaha, Suzuki, Honda, and Kawasaki topped the list with 11-17% 4-year failure rates. Equally no surprise, except to their dedicated fanbase, Can-Am, BMW, Ducati, and Triumph were at the bottom of the list with 29-42% failure rates. The whole detailed customer satisfaction report is pretty interesting.
Three wheel vehicles, especially two-in-front-one-in-back styles, are particularly trouble-prone. “Cruisers appear to require fewer repairs than other types of motorcycles, with just a 15 percent failure rate by the fourth year of ownership.” If my Craig’s List spreadsheet is any indicator of what that might be, I’d suspect the incredibly low mileage is a big part of why cruisers don’t fail much. They also aren’t ridden much.
The cost of maintenance is pretty interesting, too. “Of those that did incur out-of-pocket expenses, the average motorcycle repair bill was $342, with the cost being heavily dependent on brand and type. For those brands that we have adequate data on, median repair costs ranged from $269 for Kawasaki to $455 for BMW. Dual-sport/adventure bikes and cruisers were less expensive to repair, costing $313 and $322 on average, and sport touring models were pricier at $383.” The stuff that breaks is equally interesting, with electrical systems at 24%. So much for how installing more electronics in our bikes and cars is going to make them more reliable. Personally, I’d be the cheap and mis-applied connectors are a huge contributor to this failure mechanism.